Identifying and Controlling Fall Webworms

As autumn approaches, the fall webworm makes its arrival.

In late summer and early fall, you may begin to see the signs: thick webs full of hairy caterpillars suspended from the ends of tree branches. Webworms are the larvae of white or speckled moths; in fall they grow to approximately 1.5 inches long and are covered with gray-brown hair. Their heads can be either red or black.The webs you see are protective tents they build to shield themselves from   the weather and from natural predators. They prefer to build on most species of ornamental and fruit trees; they do not feed on conifers. The fall webworm is a very common pest and is found all over the United States.

Although they don't usually inflict any permanent damage, they aren't very pretty to look at. If you do find a web or damage from feeding larvae, simply break off the affected twig and destroy it. Webs that are too high up can be sprayed with a steady stream of water, breaking the web and exposing the larvae to predators. Just remember, the presence of a web is not an indication that your tree is structurally unsound or that it needs to be inspected. While infestations are worse in some years than in others, there is usually very little chance that the larvae have done any significant damage to your tree.

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